Thomas Mackaman’s book is an ambitious work on an important era of American labor history. It examines how rank-and-file “new immigrants” from eastern and southern Europe pushed workers’ struggles in increasingly radical directions during one of the country’s greatest periods of labor unrest. Mackaman provides a useful complement and corrective to earlier works like David Montgomery’s The Fall of the House of Labor (1989) and Gwendolyn Mink’s Old Labor and New Immigrants in American Political Development (1990) by crafting a bottom-up, noninstitutional labor history centered on the struggles of immigrants themselves. However, his book also suffers from several shortcomings that prevent it from standing on its own as a new synthesis.

Mackaman begins by reviewing the unhappy conditions that confronted most European immigrants in the Progressive Era: lack of economic mobility, squalid housing, dangerous workplaces in which “workers were literally used...

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